Anyone following Formula 1 over the past two seasons has come to expect a bit of fire from Max Verstappen, but his latest dummy spit is really something else.
An outburst at Force India star Esteban Ocon, who ruined his chance at victory in Brazil by colliding with him late in the race, landed the 21-year-old in some serious hot water.
Fuming at coming second, Verstappen confronted the 22-year-old and shoved him on camera before launching a scathing attack on the Frenchman in the post-race press conference.
He later claimed Ocon — who recently became a reserve driver for Mercedes — wouldn’t have acted so recklessly if he found himself wheel to wheel with championship winner Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen was handed two days of public service for the FIA as punishment for his sour blow-up in Brazil, but the Dutchman says he won’t be pleased if his job isn’t “suitable”.
“I’m definitely not going to look silly,” Verstappen said after the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
“I think anyway I’m already very hardly treated by that, so we’ll find something suitable, because I’m not going to look like an idiot.”
Astonishingly, Verstappen admitted the FIA was allowing him and Red Bull to discuss the method of punishment. But that doesn’t seem to be enough to sweeten the deal for the fiery star.
“We’ll discuss, between the team and the FIA, what we’re going to do,” he said via Motorsport.com.
“If I agree, it doesn’t really matter, does it? What can you do about it? I find it a bit harsh but yeah … we’ll find a solution.”
Verstappen will be in the box seat to take on Ferrari and Mercedes next season with Daniel Ricciardo out of the way and a brand new Honda engine under the hood.
He lost his chance to be the youngest ever pole sitter in Abu Dhabi after a disappointing qualifying weekend, but the young Dutchman may is in as good a seat as any to become the sport’s youngest champion if the stars align in 2019.
Despite suffering a handful of retirements, Verstappen successfully turned his 2018 season around and finished fourth in the championship race with 249 points to his name, finally outscoring Ricciardo after three seasons next to the Aussie.
With Pierre Gasly slotting in as Verstappen’s understudy in 2019, Red Bull sits on the edge of an exciting era as it fights to reclaim its former glory from earlier in the decade when Sebastian Vettel famously swept the field with four championships straight.
HAMILTON WARY OF MAX ATTACK
Five-time titleholder Lewis Hamilton says he expects Verstappen to be in the thick of next season’s championship fight.
Hamilton won the 11th Grand Prix of his title-winning campaign with a dominant performance at the final race in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, and celebrated by going backstage at a Guns N’ Roses concert.
The Mercedes star will be heading to his traditional winter training base in Colorado from where he will take stock of a remarkable season which took him to within two titles of Michael Schumacher’s record seven haul. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who Hamilton beat to the championship with two rounds to spare, will be among his rivals again in 2019, while the Briton has also backed Verstappen to feature prominently.
The Red Bull driver endured an error-prone start to this year, but ended it impressively, scoring five consecutive podiums, finishing third at the Yas Marina circuit ahead of Australian teammate Daniel Ricciardo, who is departing for before making the switch to Renault in 2019.
“Max has been driving very well throughout the year,” said Hamilton.
“He has shown his consistency this year, and he’s been up here many times with us. If his team do the job and delivers a platform so he can compete even closer with us, then of course he’ll be in the fight next year.” Many had expected Hamilton’s battle with Vettel to go down to the wire following Ferrari’s strong start to the year.
But the German fell away after a series of mistakes, and finished the campaign an eye-watering 88 points adrift of Hamilton and with just one win since the summer break, at the Belgian Grand Prix in August.
The rivals traded crash helmets after Sunday’s race, with Vettel saying to Hamilton: “Five championships is a great achievement, but I hope I stop you from getting more.” He later added: “I am looking forward to turning everything off. I need some time for myself. It has been quite a difficult and exhausting year for me, and I definitely need a bit of a gap until next season.
“I don’t think I ever had any problems raising my hand if I made a mistake, so I have to review a couple of things that went wrong. Here and there, I wasn’t at the top of my game, so I have to look at myself. I can be better than I was at times this year.” Hamilton will collect his championship trophy at the FIA’s prize-giving ceremony in St Petersburg, Russia, a week on Friday.
— with AAP